The Golden State Warriors are the NBA’s best team in large part because of their four All-Stars, but it’s really their two superstars that set them apart from the rest of the league. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are two of the three best basketball players alive, giving them a sizeable advantage over every other team.

It’s why the Houston Rockets—even after winning a league-high 65 games in the regular season—were considered heavy underdogs to start the 2018 Western Conference Finals. James Harden is going to run away with the MVP award when the final votes are tallied, and he is still the third-best player in the series. Chris Paul, a future Hall of Famer in his own right and still a top-10 NBA player, is a tier below the Warriors’ leading scorers.

But none of that has mattered in this long-awaited matchup between the West’s top seeds. Durant and Curry have come up short when Golden State has needed them most, putting the Warriors one loss away from what would be a major upset.

Durant’s overall statistics against the Rockets have remained exceptional: he’s averaging 31.2 points on 22.8 shots per game, shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range. His dominance in Game 1 was the catalyst for Golden State’s win, and for the most part, he’s been able to do whatever he’s wanted offensively.

Curry’s numbers aren’t necessarily bad, but they aren’t what we’ve come to expect from the two-time MVP. The point guard’s 23.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game on 46.0 percent shooting are somewhat Curry-like—his 32.6 percent shooting from downtown and 1.19 points per field-goal attempt are not. Curry was held below 20 points in each of the first two contests and has made more than two three-pointers just twice.

Looking at the complete stat lines for Durant and Curry don’t tell the story of how Houston has seized a 3-2 series lead. Their failures in the fourth quarter have put Golden State on the brink of elimination and could ultimately keep the Warriors from making a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.

Kevin Durant Stephen Curry Warriors Kevin Durant #35 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors react after a play in the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 14, 2018 in Houston. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Golden State blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead in Game 4 at Oracle Arena when Curry and Durant couldn’t produce on offense. Durant missed four of five field-goal attempts and Curry made one of his eight shots, allowing the Rockets to outscore the Warriors 25-12 on their way to an improbable victory. Two nights later, Durant practically disappeared when he didn’t register one made field goal or one assist in the fourth quarter of Game 5. Curry hit three fourth-quarter shots but didn’t do much of anything in the final few minutes as Houston won 98-94.

Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history. The addition of Durant was supposed to provide insurance on the rare occasions that Curry was off his game. It was a flawless combination in 2017. It hasn’t worked out as planned against Houston.

The conference finals are far from over, and the last two games could quickly be forgotten. Chris Paul’s hamstring injury gives Golden State a strong chance to come back and win the series. The Warriors would be heavy favorites in the NBA Finals against either the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers.

Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have to play better, as well, but it's on Durant and Curry to raise their games and prove why much of the basketball world has assumed the title would be theirs since the year began.